Sunday, December 28, 2008

Article I came across this morning at Washington Post turns out to be much more than one article.  It is an article collection in a series on the clean up efforts and lifestyles of the  Chesapeake Bay reported by the Washington Post.  I read with interest, recognizing that I could well be reading the future of Willapa Bay were it to become more densely populated; were it to become less ecologically sound due to carelessness of it's stewardship.   Were it to lose it's oyster population as it already once historically did when the native oysters were harvested into extinction. 

We moved here about 10 years ago from an upscale urban center in Seattle area, with an eye to the pristine beauty of the Willapa region, the historical context, and to downshift gears to a calmer, quieter way of life.   While we are indeed 'transplants', we settled in with intention of integrating into a lifestyle that somehow seems to have maintained keeping the Willapa region not too much undisturbed by carelessness of  human contaminations.   We are, for the most part, still considered 'newcomers' to the area and we recognize that some families are generational families, having lived here over many generations.  Of course, we are newcomers to that kind of generational family history.  Yet we have felt welcomed, embraced, and if there has been any joking sense of us as newcomers, it has been in good humor.  We have not felt at any time unwelcome. 

I recognize that is in large part due to the sparse population and towns of Pacific County and a rather untouched land.  One of the things I find myself thinking as we go from place to place within the county is that this must closely resemble how this land looked one hundred, two hundred years ago.  This land must look a  lot like it did to the early settlers.  This must be something close to what Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery saw when they arrived here.   This land must still look much like what it was like for the Native Americans who dwelt here, primarily the Chinook people. 

We habitat as guests in this region comparative to the history of the region, and we recognize that we are guest dwellers on this land.  Our lifestyle is not that of living off the land, in fishing, in timber/lumber, in farming (unless our  small kitchen vegetable garden counts).  By osmosis we become somewhat acquainted with the reality of the issues that beset the mix of people choosing to live in this region.    Some of our neighbors are oyster farmers, and we learn a bit about what is important to them in their livelihoods as oyster farmers.   At least one of our neighbors owns and operates a modestly sizeable dairy farm, and we learn a bit about issues important to their livelihood.  Some neighbors are agricultural farmers, and we learn a bit about issues important to their livelihoods.  And many of our neighbors are part of the timber/lumber industry, consequently we learn about issues important to their livelihoods, for example, the environmentalists efforts to save the spotted owl, which people in the timber/lumber industry will tell you about killed off their entire livelihood in that industry.

Gradually, over time, we come to know a little bit about a bit of what are important issues to the people who live in this county, who reside along the Willapa Bay, who live in the Willapa Hills .. all our neighbors in the Willapa region.    What is highly important to the livelihood of some does encroach on the livelihood of others and it seems to me a harmonious disharmony has developed over the generations. 

Where we reside now,  homeowners buying one of the older properties still standing in this community, we have a strong regard for the history of not only our immediate community, but the region where we have chosen to live.  We did not buy 'weekend getaway property' and we do have a fair share of new residents who are weekenders, along with a fair share of  new residents from out of the area who choose to settle here, buy existing property or build new homes and live here  year round.  We have lived here only ten years, but we can 'feel' the shifting tides as the older sense of not only this immediate community but the older sense of the community gives way to the new sense of community in this region. 

For property developers, driven by the property bubble, they began to look upon this region as one of the last vestiges of property development, having developed everything else along the Interstate 5 corridor regions.   As they began to look, signs of what I consider encroachment began to appear; the very things we wanted to get away from - housing developments, condos, and with that the people who buy them and want the accompanying convenience of close by stores and malls and I began to fear the beautiful landscape would give way to .... well, what development looks like, pretty much cookie cutter one to the next.   

But Willapa is an estuary, and as such has environmental protections, making too much development too quickly unlikely.    And, as my own concerns began to take root, the property bubble burst -- the mortgage crisis we are in now.  With it the start up developments in our region seemed to quickly wither.  I can't say I'm sorry to see that happened.  But I also realize it is momentary, contingent on recovery,  the marketability and at some point will once again be back on the developers map as an area to develop. 

Which brings me back to the Washington Post series on the Chesapeake Bay and the seemingly unsuccessful efforts to revive that bay.   Several components are cited as contributing factors to the demise of the vibrancy of the Chesapeake Bay, and they are the very components that affect Willapa Bay.  Why, one might ask, is one bay (Willapa Bay) still considered pristine, vibrant and productive where the Chesapeake Bay is considered contaminated and nearly beyond repair?   The Washington Post series or articles attempts to answer the question of what went wrong, what is trying to be fixed and what is or is not working about the Chesapeake Bay, so there is little need for me to repeat or condense it here.  But it has caused me to look protectively at our own Willapa Bay in a new light, perhaps in recognition that the fact of the wilderness aspect of the region which has a still manageable human population could easily go the way of the Chesapeake Bay in over development, over population, and carelessness of human contaminations.

The thing weighing a bit on my mind is that this region is under study as part of the Columbia - Pacific National Heritage Area (link to House bill and Senate bill)  , spring boarding from the historical Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery.  Regions designated National Heritage sites promote tourism, tourist $$ and enterprise and perhaps expand the regional economy, but at what cost over the short run?  I have been asking myself this question since I learned of the Columbia-Pacific National Heritage Study Act last summer.   With that question, also comes the issue of Federal recognition of the Chinook people as a recognized tribe - Chinook Nation.  It can hardly be on one hand acknowledged that the concept of  the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery could be used to advance  this region into a National Heritage site without simultaneously acknowledging that  the Chinook people, as a recognized tribe, who gave considerable aid to the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery, and are the backbone of what makes this region historically noteworthy.

I watch with interest the events ahead, with the efforts to make this region a National Heritage site, the progress for the Chinook people in being officially recognized at Federal level, the land and property development market, the responsive reaction from the various industries in the region; tourism,  commercial fishing, timber industry, agricultural community, and the newcomers who are less responsive to the history and more anxious to make the area into a region not unlike the area from which they came --- overly developed with more cookie cutter type housing developments, malls,  stores and Starbucks on every other corner.   Should that happen, the unique richness of this region will be forever lost.   Should that happen, the arguments are made and some might consider it a good thing for an ailing local economy, livelihoods unlikely to sustain in the coming years, and necessity to make way for change, lest........ 

And I ask lest what?  Lest the region remain pretty much the same as it is, and if so, what is terribly wrong with that?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Craftivism, what is it? Where did it come from? Who thought that one up?

Well, whewww, someone put it together – activism + craft = craftivism.  That works for me! 


Because it is possible to go beyond banners, email petitions and chants as ways of fighting for a cause you believe in. You could have a knit-in, papier-mache puppets, teach a crafty class for kids- all ways of turning that energy into a more positive, more useful, force. Atrocities are happening in our front yards and on our televisions and we need to find ways to react against what is happening without either giving up or exploding.

This is less about mass action or more about realizing what you can do to makes things around you better.

Read more - link here   -, created by Betsy Greer, who advanced ‘craftivism’ as a Masters thesis.    Now she’s talking, no, excuse me, now she’s crafting --- with a message!   

Gives me that elusive concept that I have been struggling with for over a year now.  How can I go from 5 years of intense and passionate activism to end the Iraq war to dabbling in exploration of hobby crafts – how are those two things congruent at all?   Looks like maybe there is a common thread, after all.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our dog, Jake, Australian Shepherd

Our wonderful dog, Jake – Australian Shepherd breed – which means NOT that he is a shepherd breed, nor from Australia. These dogs likely got their names because bred in America, they were most often used by Basque shepherds to do sheep herding.

thumbnail Jake

Thus the Australian part of the name and the shepherd part of the name. They are working dogs, guarding dogs, and are bred to be working dogs, herding dogs. While our guy doesn’t get to do near the amount of taskings and jobs he would like to do, we can attest that he is a spirited, working, herding dog. He is likely to herd cars if there are no children or critters around for him to herd.

I like this video, owner of an Australian Shepherd:

And we know this would be Jake if he ever had a chance to be around a real herd of anything.

Where do those familiar sayings come from?

Adding this bit of information that was circulating around the internet a few years ago.  Seeing it  surface again in one of my subscribes, I thought I would add it to my blog.

** LIFE IN THE 1500′S ***

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water
temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to
be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in
May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting
to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.

Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.


Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house
had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and
men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By
then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence
the saying,

  Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water..

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood
underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the
cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it
rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall
off the roof.

  Hence the saying It’s raining cats and dogs.

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed
a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess
up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung
over the top afforded some protection.

That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
Hence the saying, Dirt poor. The wealthy had slate floors that would get
slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor
to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more
thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping
outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway.

 Hence the saying a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that
always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things
to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They
would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold
overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in
it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme,

Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old..

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It
was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would
cut off a little to share with guests and

would all sit around and chew the fat..

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content
caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning
death. This happened most often with tomatoes,

so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of
the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or

the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would
sometimes knock a person out for a couple of days. Someone walking along
the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were
laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would
gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.

Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of
places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the
bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these
coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the
inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they
would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the
coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would
have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to
listen for the bell;

thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a …dead


Monday, December 22, 2008

Making this blog work!

Too many blogger template choices these days, and as the years keep passing, what people can now do with blogger compared to those early years…..why, I remember when you got the bare bones basics with blogger.  Then I learned enough html to be able to add to my blogger html template.  I thought I was doing pretty great, until the ‘feeds’ came along.  I couldn’t quite figure out how to make that work for me too well. 

Blogger then went into Beta and changed some things around, and the html templates didn’t work as well.  Blogger then offered updated user-friendly layouts, and keeps adding some competitive new features that helps bloggers keep up with being 'cool’. 

You know back in the days when I was at least on the computer technology curve, sometimes even ahead of the curve – as a user, not a techhie – I thought it was way cool.  As the years have passed, the technology has become absolutely amazing, and a whole new generation is being raised with computers, I know I’m no computer whiz.   So, with that, I’m glad that blogger technology along with those creative people out there who like to make lively, fun new templates has made it easier for me to give my blogs a periodic update with a whole new look.

Consequently, I have changed most all of my blogs several times by now, using the blogger features as they have upgraded over the years, using cool new templates as they have evolved over the years – primarily thanks to creative people who just weren’t satisfied with the limited choices of blogger templates.

So, in line with updating all my other blogs, this blog, Bundelz, is getting an overhaul now.   When I put this blog together a ways back, I had intended to try to blend and integrate various aspects of my life, and thought I could do it with this blog, or at least compile a list of all my different blogs and websites in one place.  I wasn’t altogether successful.    But maybe I can give this blog some attention again, now that I’ve dressed it up anew.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Gatherings are Gaily Wrapped Gifts

Lovely holiday luncheon yesterday. Dear Lady put on a sit-down holiday luncheon for about 20 women in our community. If it had been 1950, the luncheon might have looked like women wearing shirt-dresses with petticoats to make them flounce, hats and gloves, and a fashionable purse. But it isn’t 1950, and that is not what the women looked like at our luncheon yesterday. Although, our dear hostess, bless her heart, had a gift for each of us at the close of the luncheon --- individual hand-sewn aprons that she had been making since the previous summer. She made them specifically to gift to each of us at her holiday luncheon.

I would share photos, but I haven’t obtained permissions from the women, so in respect for their privacy, if I have photos that don’t reveal faces, I’ll post those later.

I’m just tickled with the holiday festivities this year right here within our small little village. Open house party, holiday luncheon, church potluck, Women’s Club potluck coming up next week, annual Christmas play put on by the children, Open house party on New Year’s Eve, chili dinner – bring breads later in January. Perhaps these gatherings have been the norm here for several years, but I’m just entering into all the festive fun this year, so it’s all new to me. And as such, it’s like opening a lot of gaily wrapped presents, different in form and shape.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Neighbors down the road, Seaview on Long Beach Peninsula

This must just be our week for meeting lots of new to us neighbors. It happens on occasion that my google alerts set to Willapa and Pacific County, alert me to a neighbor who is blogging. Such was the case this morning, and I encountered this blog seaviewwa – a couple who moved to Seaview and are refurbishing a home there. She’s been blogging as long as I’ve been blogging.

Where she has devoted her blog to highlighting life in her community, my blogging has shifted focus resulting in 20 different blogs with varying focus themes and the building of several websites. I feel like I’ve left too scattered an imprint over the internet. I’ve begun a bit of the process of trying to whittle it down to fewer blogs, and fewer websites. Meanwhile though, the social networking communities continue to develop and grow and now I find I am connected to too many of the social networks. And then there are the multitudes of ‘news-sharing’ social networks.

But back to the Seaview neighbor. I enjoyed reading her blog backwards entry after entry post to the start of her blog. Good representation of the community and nearby neighboring attractions. I learned fairly quickly in reading her blog that she and I do not share similar political views since her blog tells of her own political activism activities, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying and appreciating her blog.

We are sort of neighbors – here in Pacific County, there are only a few small towns dotting the county – the rest of the county is wilderness, wetlands, trees and I jokingly refer to it sometimes as Weyerhauser’s county ( Weyerhauser owns a lot of the forested tree lands in the county) – so from town to town in Pacific County, we are essentially community ‘neighbors’. I love visiting Seaview, the community where she lives, which is located right next to Long Beach and just a holler down from Ilwaco.

Not sure that many know about Bay Center, in Pacific County though. We are still a bit of a hidden treasure here, not so well known. Lately, we’ve had a fair amount of ‘artist’ types moving here to Bay Center. At this rate, we may become an artist colony in harmony with the historic Chinook families, another aspect for which Bay Center is known. (btw, take a look at The Chinook Nation Restoration Act - H.R. 6689 )

Where ever one lives in Pacific County, we do share in common the beauty of this country. We have heard more than a few times that living in Pacific County is living in God’s country, or God’s county, or God’s landscape, or God’s valium, or other takes on that theme. Can’t say as I disagree, although having been raised as a child what is affectionately known as a ‘military brat’ which meant moving around every couple of years, I’ve come to appreciate most landscapes as having their own unique beauty.

Weekend, meeting our neighbors in new venues

Lovely weekend activities. Last year at this time, everyone was still digging out from the storm (Dec 1-2, 2007) with those hurricane-strength winds at 140 + mph. Can’t really know the full strength of those winds because the gadget that measured and registered the winds at 140 mph broke.

This year, no windstorms, some temperate, cool weather, bits of sunshine, some normal rainfall, fog and mist. Just the kind of mix of winter (well, guess technically it is still Autumn) weather to have her on the bay.

One of the ‘new’ neighbors who built their beautiful new home here in BC right on the edge of Willapa Bay held a holiday Open House gathering Saturday. Seemed like most of the people living here in BC attended. I’ve been working to integrate into community activities after the long six years of intense and heightened political activism where we have focused so much of our attention, time and energy with efforts to end Iraq war, get the troops home. It’s been a nice change, quieter, and I’ve had chance to get to know our neighbors on a different level.

Arthur, on the other hand, hasn’t had that kind of time to get better acquainted so it was delightful to be able to introduce him to many of our neighbors he hasn’t yet ‘officially’ met.

At the Edwards holiday open house, (and happily looks like this will be annual gathering here in BC ) we met a few of the newly moved here neighbors who are either building new homes or refurbishing existing homes. Bev Olson was there, and I was happy to get a chance to congratulate her on her upcoming trip to the other Washington (DC). She was invited by Rep. Brian Baird to be his guest at President-Elect Barack Obama inauguration. How exciting for her, and she certainly deserves the opportunity.

I have decided to visit the 2 churches in our community to see what kind of a fit we can find. I’m impressed with the one that is building it’s new church building on the pay as you go system. They have made progress with the building and it is looking modestly beautiful since they broke ground a few years back. We went to the services Sunday, and I was impressed with the warm welcome, the humility of the people and the sense of community amongst them.

I do miss our Episcopal church community at St John’s in South Bend, where we were training to be come licensed lay preachers. We did revisit last year. Not much about it has changed, and we know we are not ready to return to being involved with the level of activities we had given at St John’s. The tug and pull in discerning our passion in ministry we felt was calling to us to challenge the morality of the Iraq war, both as lay preachers in church fellowship and as a military family with loved ones deployed in Iraq.

As the intensity of the war rose, we felt more compelled to put our energies into civic activism, as we were receiving numerous invitations to speak at various events along with our obligations to Sunday services at our church. In discernment meeting within the Bishop’s Committee, we came to decide to follow the passion of what we believed was our ministry calling, notifying our church family we would need to be freed from the weekly Sunday responsibilities.

That was four years ago. We had already moved, began buying our home in Bay Center, but continued to attend services in nearby South Bend. It will be interesting to see if we can adapt to a different church with a different belief set. Thus, we will attend services at both churches in our little Bay Center community to see if there is an adaptable fit.

One church is conservatively evangelical or pentecostal, and I’m surprised we can even begin to consider continuing to attend after these politically charged years of evangelicals inserting their religious philosophy, such as it is, into the political arena and heavily influencing the controversial polarization of the last eight years. I had a talk about this with the pastor after services, and he seemed a bit perplexed at what I was asking, assured me he did not tell his congregants how to think, how to vote, and remained free of politics.

The other church is Methodist, and I really don’t know much about Methodist religious philosophy. I do remember reading that George W. Bush was a member of Methodist church. That, sadly, is enough to put me off right there, but again, somehow these tiny church congregations in our community do not seem to be aware or part of the bigger picture with religious insertion into politics that have led to the election of George W. Bush, and his decision as President and Commander-in-Chief to invade and occupy Iraq, bringing with it the immense carnage on all sides that has marked the last six years in Iraq.

Following my own thoughts, back to this past weekend. It was refreshing to meet with so many of our neighbors in the community in new venues. It was refreshing to just be one among many of the neighbors who make up our community in Bay Center.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another day breaking…

Morning revelries. Up before dawn gives us opportunity to watch the skyline as it goes from dark of night to graying with streaks of pink sunlight for those days promising sun. Once the dark of night clears, I look out the window as I go through my ‘morning reads’ on my computer.

Familiar sights ground me. The tall evergreen trees that line the side of my yard and create peek a boo views of my neighbor’s house. The swirls of smoke escaping from neighbor’s chimney remind me that they use wood heat. I begin to wonder what it looked like back in the day when everyone had wood heat, chimney’s and smoke filled the air. I wonder what it smelled like. I am taken backwards in time to what it might have been like in this village where we chose to settle.

I have been watching daily out the same window as the leaves on the trees in my yard escape their moorings and fall to the ground. The trees go from fully clothed to partially naked to naked skeletons of their former selves. I can tell how Autumn is evaporating into winter encroachment by how my trees are looking with each day’s passing.

If it is to be a windstorm day, I can tell from my window view if it will be mild or growing windstorm by the movement of the trees, shrubs and bushes that adorn my yard. When the air is still, it is hard to imagine from my window view how much the wind can make them dance and sway.

It’s daytime now, and time to shape the outline of what I will do with this day’s treasure.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A nation of gardeners

Fruit and vegetable gardens in the US are rising in popularity as environmental consciousness meets depression economics

Last week, while helping a friend turn over her soil, I came across a giant bean that had grown out of old compost. "Fava beans," said my friend the gardener. I opened the pod and there they were, nestling in fuzzy little pockets. How come I had never seen a fava bean pod before?

These epiphanies of mine usually follow the same pattern. The way a pinch of herb smells or the precise indentations on the body of a bean reduce me to mute wonder. This is immediately followed by a resolution to plant my own kitchen garden. Technicolour fantasies come after, featuring the same homegrown cherry tomatoes and basil that I have been fantasising about for years now. And then … nothing.

The excuses are legion. It's winter, too cold for plants to grow. I don't have enough outdoor space. It's illegal to use the fire escape for anything other than escaping from fires. And what is this strange new language of annuals, biennials, perennials, hardy through zone six, pinch back and soil pH? Will I really remember to water the plants everyday?

Yet, as we move into the holiday season, and then the new year with its promise of newer improved versions of ourselves and the world, my fava-bean-inspired resolution seems to have something it did not have in previous years: a socio-cultural momentum.

Roger Doiron, the founder of Kitchen Gardeners International, reminds Barack Obama that he is the eater-in-chief. To Michael Pollan, Obama is the farmer-in-chief. Both men have asked for parts of the White House lawn to be replaced by an organic fruit and vegetable garden as a symbolic and practical measure to meet the growing food crisis. (As symbols go, this is guaranteed to be a smarter gesture than outgoing President Bush's comment about Indians and Chinese eating more and more.)

The case against lawns has been growing increasingly hard to ignore over the last two decades as we learn more about the ways in which human consumption is destroying the earth. In 2008, the artist Fritz Haeg published Edible Estates, a chronicle of the garden as art and activism. Haeg links the seemingly insignificant fruit and vegetable garden with larger issues: where our food comes from, how it is cultivated, creating communities in neighbourhoods, ownership over what we eat and whether it will rain tomorrow.

We may be approaching the tipping point of the kitchen garden movement as environmental consciousness meets depression economics. In the US, vegetables have gone from fourth place to second place in the average garden budget. Greenhouse managers report more first-time gardeners coming to their door. (In the UK, vegetables are being stolen from community gardens on an unprecedented scale.)

read more at link here

40,000 Show Up For Free Food; Weld County Farmer Shares Bounty From Platteville Fields

DENVER -- About 40,000 people showed up to a Weld County farm Saturday in the hopes of getting some free food.

But within an hour the food was gone.

"We had originally planned to take everyone by tractor to the fields but due to the overwhelming response we had to allow people to walk or drive themselves," said Dave Miller.

Many families had be to turned away and sheriff's deputies were called in to handle traffic.

The farm had planned to be open all weekend handing out potatoes, onions, beets and carrots, but now organizers said everything has been given away.

read more at link here

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wind Power Plans Coming to Pacific County? Will the communities accept new eco-industry?

article at Daily Astorian

If a project isn’t sold to the community it will struggle to gain public acceptance

There are suddenly plans for a lot of wind-based power generation blowing into Washington's Pacific County, possibly a hint at what may occur in many of the coastal counties of Oregon and Washington in the years ahead.

A "joint operating agency" of Washington state electricity providers is planning an 82-megawatt wind turbine farm in the Naselle area, with completion of up to 45 wind turbines eyed in 2011. A smaller, very interesting four-turbine project is getting started in northern Pacific County and southern Grays Harbor County. In total, all this may be enough to power some 40,000 average-sized homes.

The Pacific Northwest and the nation need more of the relatively clean energy that wind farms provide. Pacific County can use the construction and operation jobs that Radar Ridge would generate along with electricity. A similar-sized plant in Calgary cost about $140 million Canadian in 2006, perhaps not far different than what the local project will cost in U.S. dollars a year or two from now. That's a mighty big and mostly welcome investment.

At the same time, it's important to note that phalanxes of giant wind turbines have not met with universal acclaim everywhere they've been constructed. Residents often complain about the impacts they have on landscape, bird migration, traffic, hunting access and other rural values.

Quoting Canada's National Post, "Activists now decry windmills with a fervour once reserved for nuclear plants. To some, it seems strange to waste time railing against a power source that does not generate greenhouse gases, is relatively quick to construct and can serve as a powerful symbol of a community's environmental convictions. They say critics are only displaying a modern strain of 'Not In My Backyard' syndrome.

"Opponents, however, say they are driven by concerns about windmills' effects on everything from bird migration to health to property values to earthworms.

Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates

Playing around with the templates to my blogger blogs and I ran across this gift from this blogger, some fresh new 3 column templates to use.  I liked what I saw and immediately began changing the templates on several of my blogs.   You can play around with your templates too --- visit her site .   Oh and a little bonus, she has added many holiday templates

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The End of American Thanksgivings; A Cause for Universal Rejoicing

Nobody celebrates Thanksgiving quite like Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity.

We at BC are thankful that the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy. Then we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for the blessings of humanity’s deliverance from the rule of evil men.

Thanksgiving is much more than a lie – if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the “flaw” in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events – subsequently revised – were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England. The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise – Act One of the American Dream. African Slavery commenced contemporaneously – an overlapping and ultimately inseparable

Act Two.
The last Act in the American drama must be the “root and branch” eradication of all vestiges of Act One and Two – America’s seminal crimes and formative projects. Thanksgiving as presently celebrated – that is, as a national political event – is an affront to civilization.

Celebrating the unspeakable
White America embraced Thanksgiving because a majority of that population glories in the fruits, if not the unpleasant details, of genocide and slavery and feels, on the whole, good about their heritage: a cornucopia of privilege and national power. Children are taught to identify with the good fortune of the Pilgrims. It does not much matter that the Native American and African holocausts that flowed from the feast at Plymouth are hidden from the children’s version of the story – kids learn soon enough that Indians were made scarce and Africans became enslaved. But they will also never forget the core message of the holiday: that the Pilgrims were good people, who could not have purposely set such evil in motion. Just as the first Thanksgivings marked the consolidation of the English toehold in what became the United States, the core ideological content of the holiday serves to validate all that has since occurred on these shores – a national consecration of the unspeakable, a balm and benediction for the victors, a blessing of the fruits of murder and kidnapping, and an implicit obligation to continue the seamless historical project in the present day.

The Thanksgiving story is an absolution of the Pilgrims, whose brutal quest for absolute power in the New World is made to seem both religiously motivated and eminently human. Most importantly, the Pilgrims are depicted as victims – of harsh weather and their own na├»ve yet wholesome visions of a new beginning. In light of this carefully nurtured fable, whatever happened to the Indians, from Plymouth to California and beyond, in the aftermath of the 1621 dinner must be considered a mistake, the result of misunderstandings – at worst, a series of lamentable tragedies. The story provides the essential first frame of the American saga. It is unalloyed racist propaganda, a tale that endures because it served the purposes of a succession of the Pilgrims’ political heirs, in much the same way that Nazi-enhanced mythology of a glorious Aryan/German past advanced another murderous, expansionist mission.
Thanksgiving is quite dangerous – as were the Pilgrims.

Rejoicing in a cemetery

The English settlers, their ostensibly religious venture backed by a trading company, were glad to discover that they had landed in a virtual cemetery in 1620. Corn still sprouted in the abandoned fields of the Wampanoags, but only a remnant of the local population remained around the fabled Rock. In a letter to England, Massachusetts Bay colony founder John Winthrop wrote, "But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by smallpox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not 50, have put themselves under our protection."

Ever diligent to claim their own advantages as God’s will, the Pilgrims thanked their deity for having “pursued” the Indians to mass death. However, it was not divine intervention that wiped out most of the natives around the village of Patuxet but, most likely, smallpox-embedded blankets planted during an English visit or slave raid. Six years before the Pilgrim landing, a ship sailed into Patuxet’s harbor, captained by none other than the famous seaman and mercenary soldier John Smith, former leader of the first successful English colony in the New World, at Jamestown, Virginia. Epidemic and slavery followed in his wake, as Debra Glidden described in

In 1614 the Plymouth Company of England, a joint stock company, hired Captain John Smith to explore land in its behalf. Along what is now the coast of Massachusetts in the territory of the Wampanoag, Smith visited the town of Patuxet according to "The Colonial Horizon," a 1969 book edited by William Goetzinan. Smith renamed the town Plymouth in honor of his employers, but the Wampanoag who inhabited the town continued to call it Patuxet.

The following year Captain Hunt, an English slave trader, arrived at Patuxet. It was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them into slavery for 220 shillings apiece. That practice was described in a 1622 account of happenings entitled "A Declaration of the State of the Colony and Affairs in Virginia," written by Edward Waterhouse. True to the explorer tradition, Hunt kidnapped a number of Wampanoags to sell into slavery.

Another common practice among European explorers was to give "smallpox blankets" to the Indians. Since smallpox was unknown on this continent prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans did not have any natural immunity to the disease so smallpox would effectively wipe out entire villages with very little effort required by the Europeans. William Fenton describes how Europeans decimated Native American villages in his 1957 work "American Indian and White relations to 1830." From 1615 to 1619 smallpox ran rampant among the Wampanoags and their neighbors to the north. The Wampanoag lost 70 percent of their population to the epidemic and the Massachusetts lost 90 percent.

Most of the Wampanoag had died from the smallpox epidemic so when the Pilgrims arrived they found well-cleared fields which they claimed for their own. A Puritan colonist, quoted by Harvard University's Perry Miller, praised the plague that had wiped out the Indians for it was "the wonderful preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ, by his providence for his people's abode in the Western world."

Historians have since speculated endlessly on why the woods in the region resembled a park to the disembarking Pilgrims in 1620. The reason should have been obvious: hundreds, if not thousands, of people had lived there just five years before.

In less than three generations the settlers would turn all of New England into a charnel house for Native Americans, and fire the economic engines of slavery throughout English-speaking America. Plymouth Rock is the place where the nightmare truly began.

The uninvited?

It is not at all clear what happened at the first – and only – “integrated” Thanksgiving feast. Only two written accounts of the three-day event exist, and one of them, by Governor William Bradford, was written 20 years after the fact. Was Chief Massasoit invited to bring 90 Indians with him to dine with 52 colonists, most of them women and children? This seems unlikely. A good harvest had provided the settlers with plenty of food, according to their accounts, so the whites didn’t really need the Wampanoag’s offering of five deer. What we do know is that there had been lots of tension between the two groups that fall. John Two-Hawks, who runs the Native Circle web site, gives a sketch of the facts:

“Thanksgiving' did not begin as a great loving relationship between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people. In fact, in October of 1621 when the pilgrim survivors of their first winter in Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial 'Thanksgiving' meal, the Indians who were there were not even invited! There was no turkey, squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. A few days before this alleged feast took place, a company of 'pilgrims' led by Miles Standish actively sought the head of a local Indian chief, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out!”

It is much more likely that Chief Massasoit either crashed the party, or brought enough men to ensure that he was not kidnapped or harmed by the Pilgrims. Dr. Tingba Apidta, in his “Black Folks’ Guide to Understanding Thanksgiving,” surmises that the settlers “brandished their weaponry” early and got drunk soon thereafter. He notes that “each Pilgrim drank at least a half gallon of beer a day, which they preferred even to water. This daily inebriation led their governor, William Bradford, to comment on his people's ‘notorious sin,’ which included their ‘drunkenness and uncleanliness’ and rampant ‘sodomy.’”

Soon after the feast the brutish Miles Standish “got his bloody prize,” Dr. Apidta writes:

“He went to the Indians, pretended to be a trader, then beheaded an Indian man named Wituwamat. He brought the head to Plymouth, where it was displayed on a wooden spike for many years, according to Gary B. Nash, ‘as a symbol of white power.’ Standish had the Indian man's young brother hanged from the rafters for good measure. From that time on, the whites were known to the Indians of Massachusetts by the name ‘Wotowquenange,’ which in their tongue meant cutthroats and stabbers.”

What is certain is that the first feast was not called a “Thanksgiving” at the time; no further integrated dining occasions were scheduled; and the first, official all-Pilgrim “Thanksgiving” had to wait until 1637, when the whites of New England celebrated the massacre of the Wampanoag’s southern neighbors, the Pequots.

The real Thanksgiving Day Massacre

The Pequots today own the Foxwood Casino and Hotel, in Ledyard, Connecticut, with gross gaming revenues of over $9 billion in 2000. This is truly a (very belated) miracle, since the real first Pilgrim Thanksgiving was intended as the Pequot’s epitaph. Sixteen years after the problematical Plymouth feast, the English tried mightily to erase the Pequots from the face of the Earth, and thanked God for the blessing.

Having subdued, intimidated or made mercenaries of most of the tribes of Massachusetts, the English turned their growing force southward, toward the rich Connecticut valley, the Pequot’s sphere of influence. At the point where the Mystic River meets the sea, the combined force of English and allied Indians bypassed the Pequot fort to attack and set ablaze a town full of women, children and old people.

William Bradford, the former Governor of Plymouth and one of the chroniclers of the 1621 feast, was also on hand for the great massacre of 1637:

"Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire...horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy."

The rest of the white folks thought so, too. “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots," read Governor John Winthrop’s proclamation. The authentic Thanksgiving Day was born.

Most historians believe about 700 Pequots were slaughtered at Mystic. Many prisoners were executed, and surviving women and children sold into slavery in the West Indies. Pequot prisoners that escaped execution were parceled out to Indian tribes allied with the English. The Pequot were thought to have been extinguished as a people. According to IndyMedia, “The Pequot tribe numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had brought their numbers down to 1,500 by 1637. The Pequot ‘War’ killed all but a handful of remaining members of the tribe.”

But there were still too many Indians around to suit the whites of New England, who bided their time while their own numbers increased to critical, murderous mass.

Guest’s head on a pole

By the 1670s the colonists, with 8,000 men under arms, felt strong enough to demand that the Pilgrims’ former dinner guests the Wampanoags disarm and submit to the authority of the Crown. After a series of settler provocations in 1675, the Wampanoag struck back, under the leadership of Chief Metacomet, son of Massasoit, called King Philip by the English. Metacomet/Philip, whose wife and son were captured and sold into West Indian slavery, wiped out 13 settlements and killed 600 adult white men before the tide of battle turned. A 1996 issue of the Revolutionary Worker provides an excellent narrative.

In their victory, the settlers launched an all-out genocide against the remaining Native people. The Massachusetts government offered 20 shillings bounty for every Indian scalp, and 40 shillings for every prisoner who could be sold into slavery. Soldiers were allowed to enslave any Indian woman or child under 14 they could capture. The "Praying Indians" who had converted to Christianity and fought on the side of the European troops were accused of shooting into the treetops during battles with "hostiles." They were enslaved or killed. Other "peaceful" Indians of Dartmouth and Dover were invited to negotiate or seek refuge at trading posts – and were sold onto slave ships.

It is not known how many Indians were sold into slavery, but in this campaign, 500 enslaved Indians were shipped from Plymouth alone. Of the 12,000 Indians in the surrounding tribes, probably about half died from battle, massacre and starvation.

After King Philip's War, there were almost no Indians left free in the northern British colonies. A colonist wrote from Manhattan's New York colony: "There is now but few Indians upon the island and those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts." In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a "day of public thanksgiving" in 1676, saying, "there now scarce remains a name or family of them but are either slain, captivated or fled."

Fifty-five years after the original Thanksgiving Day, the Puritans had destroyed the generous Wampanoag and all other neighboring tribes. The Wampanoag chief King Philip was beheaded. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull still hung on display 24 years later.

This is not thought to be a fit Thanksgiving tale for the children of today, but it’s the real story, well-known to the settler children of New England at the time – the white kids who saw the Wampanoag head on the pole year after year and knew for certain that God loved them best of all, and that every atrocity they might ever commit against a heathen, non-white was blessed.

There’s a good term for the process thus set in motion: nation-building.

Roots of the slave trade

The British North American colonists’ practice of enslaving Indians for labor or direct sale to the West Indies preceded the appearance of the first chained Africans at the dock in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. The Jamestown colonists’ human transaction with the Dutch vessel was an unscheduled occurrence. However, once the African slave trade became commercially established, the fates of Indians and Africans in the colonies became inextricably entwined. New England, born of up-close-and-personal, burn-them-in-the-fires-of-hell genocide, led the political and commercial development of the English colonies. The region also led the nascent nation’s descent into a slavery-based society and economy.

Ironically, an apologist for Virginian slavery made one of the best, early cases for the indictment of New England as the engine of the American slave trade. Unreconstructed secessionist Lewis Dabney’s 1867 book “A Defense of Virginia” traced the slave trade’s origins all the way back to Plymouth Rock:

The planting of the commercial States of North America began with the colony of Puritan Independents at Plymouth, in 1620, which was subsequently enlarged into the State of Massachusetts. The other trading colonies, Rhode Island and Connecticut, as well as New Hampshire (which never had an extensive shipping interest), were offshoots of Massachusetts. They partook of the same characteristics and pursuits; and hence, the example of the parent colony is taken here as a fair representation of them.

The first ship from America, which embarked in the African slave trade, was the Desire, Captain Pierce, of Salem; and this was among the first vessels ever built in the colony. The promptitude with which the "Puritan Fathers" embarked in this business may be comprehended, when it is stated that the Desire sailed upon her voyage in June, 1637. The first feeble and dubious foothold was gained by the white man at Plymouth less than seventeen years before; and as is well known, many years were expended by the struggle of the handful of settlers for existence. So that it may be correctly said, that the commerce of New England was born of the slave trade; as its subsequent prosperity was largely founded upon it. The Desire, proceeding to the Bahamas, with a cargo of "dry fish and strong liquors, the only commodities for those parts," obtained the negroes from two British men-of-war, which had captured them from a Spanish slaver.

Thus, the trade of which the good ship Desire, of Salem, was the harbinger, grew into grand proportions; and for nearly two centuries poured a flood of wealth into New England, as well as no inconsiderable number of slaves. Meanwhile, the other maritime colonies of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and Connecticut, followed the example of their elder sister emulously; and their commercial history is but a repetition of that of Massachusetts. The towns of Providence, Newport, and New Haven became famous slave trading ports. The magnificent harbor of the second, especially, was the favorite starting-place of the slave ships; and its commerce rivaled, or even exceeded, that of the present commercial metropolis, New York. All the four original States, of course, became slaveholding.

The Revolution that exploded in 1770s New England was undertaken by men thoroughly imbued with the worldview of the Indian-killer and slave-holder. How could they not be? The “country” they claimed as their own was fathered by genocide and mothered by slavery – its true distinction among the commercial nations of the world. And these men were not ashamed, but proud, with vast ambition to spread their exceptional characteristics West and South and wherever their so-far successful project in nation-building might take them – and by the same bloody, savage methods that had served them so well in the past.

At the moment of deepest national crisis following the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln invoked the national fable that is far more central to the white American personality than Lincoln’s battlefield “Address.” Lincoln seized upon the 1621 feast as the historic “Thanksgiving” – bypassing the official and authentic 1637 precedent – and assigned the dateless, murky event the fourth Thursday in November.

Lincoln surveyed a broken nation, and attempted nation-rebuilding, based on the purest white myth. The same year that he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he renewed the national commitment to a white manifest destiny that began at Plymouth Rock. Lincoln sought to rekindle a shared national mission that former Confederates and Unionists and white immigrants from Europe could collectively embrace. It was and remains a barbaric and racist national unifier, by definition. Only the most fantastic lies can sanitize the history of the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts.

”Like a rock”

The Thanksgiving holiday fable is at once a window on the way that many, if not most, white Americans view the world and their place in it, and a pollutant that leaches barbarism into the modern era. The fable attempts to glorify the indefensible, to enshrine an era and mission that represent the nation’s lowest moral denominators. Thanksgiving as framed in the mythology is, consequently, a drag on that which is potentially civilizing in the national character, a crippling, atavistic deformity. Defenders of the holiday will claim that the politically-corrected children’s version promotes brotherhood, but that is an impossibility – a bald excuse to prolong the worship of colonial “forefathers” and to erase the crimes they committed. Those bastards burned the Pequot women and children, and ushered in the multinational business of slavery. These are facts. The myth is an insidious diversion – and worse.

Humanity cannot tolerate a 21st Century superpower, much of whose population perceives the world through the eyes of 17th Century land and flesh bandits. Yet that is the trick that fate has played on the globe. We described the roots of the planetary dilemma in our March 13, 2003 commentary, “Racism & War, Perfect Together.”

The English arrived with criminal intent - and brought wives and children to form new societies predicated on successful plunder. To justify the murderous enterprise, Indians who had initially cooperated with the squatters were transmogrified into "savages" deserving displacement and death. The relentlessly refreshed lie of Indian savagery became a truth in the minds of white Americans, a fact to be acted upon by every succeeding generation of whites. The settlers became a singular people confronting the great "frontier" - a euphemism for centuries of genocidal campaigns against a darker, "savage" people marked for extinction.

The necessity of genocide was the operative, working assumption of the expanding American nation. "Manifest Destiny" was born at Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, later to fall (to paraphrase Malcolm) like a rock on Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, etc. Little children were taught that the American project was inherently good, Godly, and that those who got in the way were "evil-doers" or just plain subhuman, to be gloriously eliminated. The lie is central to white American identity, embraced by waves of European settlers who never saw a red person.

Only a century ago, American soldiers caused the deaths of possibly a million Filipinos whom they had been sent to “liberate” from Spanish rule. They didn’t even know who they were killing, and so rationalized their behavior by substituting the usual American victims. Colonel Funston, of the Twentieth Kansas Volunteers, explained what got him motivated in the Philippines:

"Our fighting blood was up and we all wanted to kill 'niggers.' This shooting human beings is a 'hot game,' and beats rabbit hunting all to pieces." Another wrote that "the boys go for the enemy as if they were chasing jack-rabbits .... I, for one, hope that Uncle Sam will apply the chastening rod, good, hard, and plenty, and lay it on until they come into the reservation and promise to be good 'Injuns.'"

Our military leaders in Iraq continue to personify the unfitness of Americans to play a major role in the world, much less rule it.

What does this have to do with the Mayflower? Everything. Although possibly against their wishes, the Pilgrims hosted the Wampanoag for three no doubt anxious days. The same men killed and enslaved Wampanoags immediately before and after the feast. They, their newly arrived English comrades and their children roasted hundreds of neighboring Indians alive just 16 years later, and two generations afterwards cleared nearly the whole of New England of its indigenous “savages,” while enthusiastically enriching themselves through the invention of transoceanic, sophisticated means of enslaving millions. The Mayflower’s cultural heirs are programmed to find glory in their own depravity and savagery in their most helpless victims, who can only redeem themselves by accepting the inherent goodness of white Americans.

Thanksgiving encourages these cognitive cripples in their madness, just as it is designed to do.

Things are looking up

We began this essay by saying that “the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy.” We firmly believe this. The wired world works against the Bushites insane leap to global hegemony, while creating the material basis for (dare we say the words) brother- and sisterhood among humankind. It becomes clear that the fruits of millennia of human genius cannot be captured and packaged for the enrichment of a few for much longer – and certainly not by a cabal that cannot see beyond the bubble of its own, warped history. The dim outlines of a new and more democratic world order can be seen in the often tentative, but sometimes dramatic actions of movements and nations determined to construct a fairer way to live. As the world witnesses the brutality, stupidity and sheer incompetence of the Pirates currently at the helm of the United States, the urgency of a common, alternative human project becomes apparent to all. The “end of history” that the Bushites triumphantly announce is really the end of them, through a process they have accelerated with every deranged action and delusional strategy they have undertaken since 2001.

They are like men in quicksand. White racism as a global scourge will sink with them, and eventually whither to a mere prejudice rather than a world-threatening menace.

We at BC are thankful to be alive in the knowledge that a new world is just over the horizon, close enough to sense, even if we never see it.

We are optimistic about our struggle in the United States – if not, we would never encourage anybody to fight and struggle for anything.

We are thankful for our hope that Barack Obama is the real thing and a genuine social democrat who will with our support and criticism push the envelope in civilized directions.

We are thankful we can renew our confidence in African Americans, citizens of the African World and all other people of good will who will continue to be part of the movement for economic justice, social justice and peace.

Any article may be re-printed as long as it is re-printed in its entirety and full credit given to the author and . If the re-print is on the Internet we additionally request a link back to the original piece on our Website.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Still Smoke Free but Weigh Way More!

Sept 2008 marked my 2nd year anniversary being smoke free after 40 years being a smoker. Quitting was not as difficult as my imagination told me it would be and I sure wish I had done it 20 years earlier or 30 years earlier or never started. But what is done is done.

I'm used to having a somewhat thin body, and the combination of going through menopause and quitting smoking around the same time has left me with weight I didn't have even during my three preganancies. Horrors!

In my mind, I simply imagine doing some of the exercises I used to do as a young dancer (ballet, jazz, aerobics) and all will be well again. Well my imagination is active, but it is not getting the job done. What is it about aging that makes physical activity less agreeable and something I have to work at to make myself do....

I admit it, I'm struggling with this stage of my life. Much as I am trying to adapt, it is not going so well. My mind's eye still embraces my young woman-ness, rejecting my middle age woman-ness. The mirror tells me a different story than my mind's eye and there is internal disharmony. Until I get to a place of resolve and acceptance, my inner world continues to fight within itself.

I didn't intend for this to be a woe is me blog post and I hope it doesn't sound like it is. These are new challenges for me and while it is creating some chaos and confusion in my inner vision of my identity and self, they are nonetheless positive challenges. Embracing new challenges, finding new reasons to look at the blessings of life, living within the framework of a new identity as a middle-age woman -- life is good.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

View Driving Home








I was capturing some of the scenery on our drive home. We were driving home as the sun was starting to set.  I was able to get a nice set before we lost the light.   Not bad considering these were taken as a passenger in a moving vehicle.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First Lady (to be) Michelle Obama phoned me at my home!!

She really did. She phoned on Veterans Day. I was sitting at my desk in my home in my lounge around the house clothes, working on my laptop. The dawning of the fullness of the recognition that I was on the phone listening to Michelle Obama, who will very soon be the First Lady hit me like a ton of bricks and blew me away. Wow, I'm on a phone call with the First Lady -- how cool is that!

Actually, it was a conference call, listen only, that Michelle Obama made on Veterans Day to Blue Star Families 4 Obama, to thank them for their pro-active help in the campaign, to thank them for their sacrifices as military families. We are a Blue Star family and I had joined the BSF4O group during the campaign at my mybarackobama campaign site.

So no, it was not a personal call specifically to me, and I was having a little fun with the first part of this post. Still, I was surprised at my own reaction and recognition -- this really is Michelle Obama, she really will be the First Lady, she is talking to us on a phone conference call, talking about her daughters, getting them into schools, getting ready for the inauguration. It had a surreal feeling to it for me. I am not used to being on a phone call from the First Lady and well, the Vice President -- an earlier conference call I got to participate in (listen only) with Joe Biden.

If I were to be on a phone conference call with President Elect, Barack Obama, based on my reaction to Michelle Obama's phone conference call, I'm sure my reaction will cause my heart to beat faster.

Towards the end of the campaign, I was on a listen only conference call from Joe Biden that he set up via his email listserv. He had just concluded his speech in Tacoma, WA, thanked us and was encouraging the many of us on the conference call to get out there and keep working, and not to take anything for granted.

The audacity of hope..boy, am I feeling it!

One photo embraces Veteran’s Day

Returning wounded Iraq veteran, and now Director of the Illinois Dept of Veteran’s Affairs, Tammy Duckworth who lost both legs in combat in Iraq war with President Elect, Barack Obama on Veteran’s Day 2008; ceremony of placing the wreath on Bronze Soldiers Memorial.

Obama Tammy Duckworth Veterans Day 2008

link - more photos and article

On a more personal note, Arthur, along with the rest of the veterans living here in our community were honored yesterday in a Veteran’s Day ceremony at our county park. A flag flown over the White House had been purchased, and that flag was raised in ceremony by one of the veterans at our county park official flag pole.

A thank you applause to the veterans, photos and a brief speech. Arthur is a Vietnam era veteran. He rarely points to his own service, while humbly pointing to and honoring other veterans.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gifts in a Jar - Collections


Straight from your kitchen; it’s become a holiday tradition now – the growing collections of ‘gifts in a jar’. They are all over the internet, blogs and websites. Thought I’d make a post, open a category and collect links to what is already out there. Since so many have built their own collections, it would be redundant for me to repeat one by one, so let’s go for collections.

Found this one today at ‘The Old Front Porch’ and they have a pretty good collection already underway there.

Online banking: Convenient but be Wise.

AP Technology writer, Jordan Robertson has an article at today that speaks to this subject.

Reading the entire article is certainly not a waste of time.



"The most paranoid people in the world — computer security experts — say it's absolutely fine to bank online. As long as you guard against the person who is likely your biggest adversary: yourself.

If you're banking online, your top priority should be avoid these "phishing" e-mails. They led to an estimated $3.2 billion in consumer losses in 2007.

Avoiding them is simple: don't click on any links in e-mails sent to you purporting to be from your bank. Open up a separate window in your browser and navigate to the banking site on your own. That's critical to making sure you're visiting the authentic site, and will hugely cut your risk of getting hacked.

(2) Where I need self-reform ...

People should also take care to not store their banking passwords or other sensitive information about their accounts in e-mail messages, particularly if those e-mail accounts are Web-based.

If you need to write down information like passwords or account numbers to remember them, sometimes pen and paper is the safest way.


Monday, November 10, 2008

‘Crawford’ – dvd feature film, when George W. Bush came to town

Released in 2008, the film ‘Crawford’ produced/directed by David Modigliani is a documentary/biography of the small town of Crawford, Texas before George W. Bush arrived at their doorstep, during the time of his Presidency. (And now after as new President-Elect, Barack Obama, is preparing to assume the office of President of the United States). The film,’Crawford’ is put together in a way that shows the residents of the town, their lives, and the impact of what happens to the town and their lives when George Bush moves to their town to set up his ranch in his campaign for President.

The video is embedded below, obtaining it from and assuming that Hulu has necessary permissions to share it online. If the video does not work at my blog, you can view it where I did, online at his link – Hulu.

I jump ahead of the film, to my own personal experience of Crawford, Texas. Of course, part of the Crawford experience is that month of August 2005, when Cindy Sheehan parked herself in Crawford outside the President’s ranch during his vacation. For perspective as to why Cindy decided to make her stand at that time, remember that President Bush took vacation shortly after one of his press conferences in which he identifies the deaths of troops in Iraq as having given their lives for a noble cause.

Remember that at that time, 23 marines from the Lima Company alone had been killed in Iraq in 2005, 20 were killed over 2 days in August 2005 – six on Aug 1, and fourteen on Aug 3. Cindy, mother of Casey Sheehan, soldier, who was killed in Iraq April 4, 2004, deliberately went to Crawford almost immediately after the noble cause statement to ask George Bush personally ‘What Noble Cause?’ . While the film does not elevate this period of the George Bush ranch in Crawford experience,the film attempts to show the impact on local residents.

I was part of that story, part of that August 2005 experience of Crawford. Since I was not or did not consider myself to be a ‘peace activist’ prior to the Iraq war but chose to present as a military family trying to speak out to a new young generation of military families, the perspectives I have of my own experiences among the peace/activism communities has it’s own unique flavor. My experience of Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, August 2005 is colored by my experiences growing up as what is affectionately callled a ‘military brat’ on military bases in between the Korean Conflict (war) and the Vietnam war, my experiences as a military wife of a young husband, drafted and deployed to Vietnam, my experiences living in the ‘military culture’, my professional career employment in the social services field during my adult years as a civilian employed in state level public sector, and my inexperience with the culture of peace/activism communities.

The film does justice to one of the many considerations I had when I was at Crawford. How does this tiny town cope with having such high profile people make their mark at Crawford? How does the town deal with and cope with the polarized, political battle of opinions here at home on the Iraq war which I believe came to head at Crawford during Camp Casey in August 2005. Now that I actually do live in a small town, and it is a new part of my life experiences, I wondered how the people in the town where I live would react should something similar happen in their town and lives.

Whatever came after the August 2005, Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey experience, I will always credit Cindy with bringing to head the public discourse which at that time had been embroiled in political limitations to the language of what constitutes patriotism, the flag, and support for the troops. The public political discourse needed to happen and the shift in the political discourse because of that month of August 2005 in Crawford that gave voice to the many-faceted feelings and opinions of the war in Iraq needed to happen.

It opened doors within the public Iraq war political discourse that had been previously deliberately slammed shut. And I would offer those doors were slammed shut with deliberate forethought and premeditation so as to confine, undermine, and squelch any opportunity of public dialogue or public dissent. For myself, an ordinary person living an ordinary life, my experience of August 2005 in Crawford, Texas was extraordinary and has marked me indelibly.

But August 2005 is not the point of this film, it is a part of the film, as it is a part of the Crawford experience. The film is presented in a way that does not favor opinions about the Iraq war, about George W. Bush, but brings to bear the experience of both along with other experiences that often times typifies small town America. The ending of the film shook me up – was something I did not know and was very unsettling.

I hope you’ll watch the film. It is not a trailer, but the full length film, 1 hour and 15 minutes, so recommend watching it when you have some time to watch it.

Excerpt of one review of the film ‘Crawford’ by Joe Leydon at Variety

David Modiglinai's "Crawford" offers an evenhanded and occasionally poignant account of the impact on the citizenry of the small Texas town chosen by President George W. Bush to be the site of his so-called "Western White House." Filmed over several years, docu plays like a rise-and-fall drama populated with colorful, contrasting characters who have profoundly mixed feelings about being used as props in Bush's political stagecraft. After a spin on the fest circuit, pic might get limited theatrical play before pubcast and/or niche-cable airdates.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sustainable Christmas? The year of 'No Consumer Shopping' gifts

lighted Christmas tree

I've issued what I think is a fun challenge to the families that make up some of our family tree. This year, with the economic issues, downright crisis in some instances, and with sustainable living - green - recycle - reclaim - reuse - global warming, well seems a perfect year to make a change we've been gradually making anyway.

Say No to Consumer Shopping and Yes to Joyously Remade Christmas. In my challenge to my families , I put out simple rules; No purchases at stores, not even Dollar Store but Thrift Stores okay. Food gifts okay, but cannot purchase outside your normal food budget (so can't run out and buy up all kinds of holiday food items to make food gifts). How creatively can we recycle items into gifts?

I've been interested in this for a while now, and with re-fashioning clothes into other fashions, re-making used items into something else, and all the crafty, sustainable living, green, recycle, re-use, re-claim websites and blogs online, I think it would be a fun challenge for our families. What do you think? I've asked also for fun links to websites and blogs with how to tutorials, diy (do it yourself), trash to treasures kind of thing. I welcome your participation too. Tell me about your effort towards no consumer shopping Christmas gifts this year.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Will Smith on Obama ‘Oprah I'm an action hero, I can't be crying on your show,"

I’m a Will Smith fan, I just like the guy. I like his approach and attitude and I like his movies, and yes, he he makes me laugh. Video of him on Oprah show after the elections results in President-Elect Barack Obama. Watch the video at this link.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Christmas when the family grows and is gone.

he holidays are coming! The holidays are coming! I like to enjoy the celebration part of the holidays, keeping the holiday cheer, without overdoing it and turning it into holiday stress. And since it is a long holiday season, somewhere about midstream I began to fade a little and lose some of my jubilance. The thing is that in my mind's eye, I make plans to do so many things that I lose my focus and do fewer things. I'd like to do some things this year and maybe not do other things and see if I can get a different outcome.

The children are grown, adults now, and have left home, are well into their own lives with their own children and families. When they were young children I liked the idea of a big tree with lots and lots of decorations, not particularly themed, but particularly full. We have now a big artificial tree and the years of decorations. One Christmas I remember we took 2 days to put up the tree, a week to decorate it and the house looked so fantastically Christmas. There were no visitors to our home that year and somehow so much bling seemed kind of lonely, sad and overmuch without the full house of children.

The next year we bought a smaller, slimmer tree and I put on much fewer decorations. In fact, did not even unpack the boxes and boxes of stored Christmas ornaments and decor. Last year I found what I call one of those artificial 'Northern Exposure' kind of Christmas tree or could also be called 'Pacific Northwest' kind of Christmas tree. Three trunks side by side with branches, and overall skinny, not taking up very much room.

We had my mother stay with us last holiday - Thanksgiving to Christmas. Had many festive outings planned, but those plans got nixed and cancelled with the early December storm of the century we had here last year. They don't use the word hurricane, but it was hurricane force winds at 140 mph or more over 2 days. Mom is in her 70s now, and was a real trooper throughout the storm and the long winter days that followed in clean up. It was rather an unforgettable holiday season.

This, a year later, and well we will have our usual winter wind and rain storms or more of the 'big ones', but I plan to go into this holiday season with high and joyful thoughts. It's taken about a decade, but I'm adapting to the reality that our children are grown and gone, involved with their own families, and it's just the two of us now. It will be a happy holiday as we find new traditions for how we want to spend the holidays.

Toasting the Holidays

"Dads are often expected to raise the first glass and offer inspiring remarks, as family and friends come together with anticipation and cheer," said Paul Banas, CEO of "Holidays events are wonderful opportunities for dads to rise to the occasion, deliver unforgettable words, and set forth a tradition for generations to follow."

Five Top Toasting Tips
Prepare remarks in advance and be yourself. It's a good idea to write out your toast and get comfortable with it. This way, you can convey your remarks with ease.

Stand and deliver. Be sure to get everyone's attention before making the toast. While the room need not be quiet enough to hear a pin drop, you do want to make sure that you have a captive audience.

Keep it brief. Most of us have a family member known as the "rambling relative" when it comes to toasting. Remember to pay attention to your audience and the time, so that your toast warms everyone's hearts and ensures the food doesn't go cold.

Humor is fine. Make sure that you keep it light and natural. If you plan to include a joke, be sure to practice (and always know the punchline).

Make sure everyone has something to toast along with you. It's also appropriate to include non-alcoholic drinks. A favorite for kids is sparkling cider.

see more at article

The Cave of Crystals Discovered 1000 feet below Mexican Desert

Until you notice the orange-suited men clambering around, it's hard to grasp the extraordinary scale of this underground crystal forest.

Nearly 1,000ft below the Chihuahua Desert in Mexico, this cave was discovered by two brothers drilling in the Naica lead and silver mine. It is an eerie sight.

Up to 170 giant, luminous obelisks - the biggest is 37.4ft long and the equivalent height of six men - jut across the grotto like tangled pillars of light; and the damp rock of their walls is covered with yet more flawless clusters of blade-sharp crystal.


see the original photos and read the entire article at here

(note; the size and shape of the photos on my blog have been modified to fit the blog and may have distortions)


What a refreshing change in the ‘morning news’ for me since most of my morning reads contain political news. It’s nice to see an awesomely amazing natural wonder in my morning news.

American Prayer - Dave Stewart (Barack Obama Music Video)

Inspiring and Hopeful. And just a few days away now from becoming a much needed change in our political reality.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Autumn morning

Saturday Morning. Brisk, snappy cold Autumn morning. House is chilled, and I have on extra layer plus the wrist and neck warmer I crocheted for when I'm sitting at my laptop and not moving around too much. As the morning beckons, the light shines through with the promise of another sunshine filled day, I look forward to doing some work outside to clean up the garden beds. Where we live, with rain a more frequent visitor than sunshine, we have to capitalize on the sun-filled days to our advantage. There are more than enough outside activities to fill those less frequen sunny days and perhaps not quite enough inside activities to fill up all thos rainy days.

As usual, though, once I sit down to the computer, one project leads to another to another and too much time elapses. It's like a sinkhole, me and my computer, and as time ticks by when I finally look up, I have once again sunk into the morass.

Adding a few items to this blog, but more of the morning and afternoon was used in converting online documents. Off I go now to put the container garden beds to rest for the winter...well except for the root crops, like carrots, beets, parsnips, maybe a turnip or two grew before the cold snap.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Photo of mother at gravesite referenced by Colin Powell endorsement of Barack Obama


The photo Colin Powell referenced in his endorsement of Barack Obama. The photo of mother at her son's gravesite, a young man, 20 years old, killed in Iraq, awarded Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Emblem on his gravesite is not the Christian cross, the Jewish Star of David, but the Muslim Crescent and Star. Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, Cpl., U.S. Army, Operation Iraqi Freedom, was an American who was 14 at the time of 911. He waited until he was of age to enlist in military to serve his country (United States of America) and he gave his life for his country...the United States of America.

excerpt from the transcript of Colin Powell endorsement speech on Meet The Press today

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

Video of Colin Powell's endorsement speech of Barack Obama at Meet the Press today.

There is much to be mined from Colin Powell's speech that might resonate more strongly with others. Colin Powell, with this reference, eloquenty elevated a truth and reality of the constancy of our country's relationship to the Iraq war. I wanted to take a moment to share in elegance that truth, that reality, amidst all the background noise of the Presidential campaign.

It is not useful for me to editorialize or restate using my lesser words that which Colin Powell has brought into perspective with his own words. I hope, readers, you will take time to listen to Colin Powell and hear the words for yourselves.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

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